Updated: Nov 29, 2022
Remote teams bring many benefits to an organization. But they also bring a number of challenges. Remote work is one thing, but managing a remote team and maintaining morale and engagement is quite another. So if you are a team manager, be aware of all the challenges associated with remote work and team management.
With the Covid 19 pandemic, the way Americans work has changed dramatically, as many professionals have switched to remote work, and most of them seem quite happy with this situation. A remote team is a group of professionals who are part of the team and are located anywhere in the world. In addition to the challenges of having different backgrounds, cultures and skill sets, remote work can bring its own challenges, such as working in different time zones.
Employee engagement is a term that characterizes an employee's relationship with their employer and is defined as the employee's emotional connection to the company. An engaged employee is eager, involved and committed to his or her work at the company and is willing to go above and beyond. Research shows that employee engagement is critical to the sustainability of a company's products and services over the long term.
While financial incentives may seem like an easy solution, people need more than money to stay motivated. Unfortunately, this also applies to remote workplaces, where employees can feel isolated. That's why you need to come up with new approaches to increase engagement.
The lack of proper communication tools
With remote teams, the fundamental challenge is communication. Technology is certainly a boon in this case and helps keep information up to date. The entire team needs to use the right tools that can help with chats, task management, project management and much more.
Since the remote team is not working face-to-face, the biggest issue could be trust and fear of meeting project deadlines. Since employees have the freedom to work on their own time, managers might feel pressured because they do not know exactly how far along the project is.
Lack of group cohesion
In an office environment, it's very easy to talk, mingle and collaborate with colleagues. With remote teams, communication between team members can be sparse and peripheral, which affects team cohesion. So how can you, as a team manager, help foster and maintain engagement and morale on remote teams? Here are a few practices you can employ.
As cliché as it may sound, technology has brought us all together, so it can be used for the best. Effective communication and regular meetings help us feel connected as a team. With countless options like Zoom and Slack, the entire team can come together and make work seamless, easy and convenient. Video conferencing can suffice for face-to-face interaction. It's a great way to make your employees feel like part of the team.
Create an emotional connection.
With remote teams, loneliness can be a very serious issue. You can build real relationships with your remote workers and allow them to have a healthy balance. Set timelines to respect their time. Also, schedule breaks where you can talk about personal matters. This creates familiarity and promotes satisfaction. This actually has an impact on work and overall engagement.
Plan fun into your routine.
You could host at least one virtual happy hour each month. This could be a session where icebreaker questions are asked and you get your employees talking about something other than just work. You could also hold many events online, such as costume parties, scavenger hunts, online murder mysteries, and other fun virtual activities.
Offer rewards and incentives.
One of the most effective strategies for engaging remote workers and building a company culture is to reward hard work. You can offer bonuses and gift certificates. Managers can conduct a short survey to find out which rewards are most popular with their employees.
Financial incentives are not the only thing that attracts remote workers to a job. Employee engagement and job satisfaction can be influenced by recognition among colleagues. This means managers must make an effort to recognize and thank employees who make a positive contribution.
Include gamification in the corporate plan.
Gamification is a popular workplace concept that has been shown to boost employee motivation and engagement. These games use an online platform to help employees achieve various goals and reward them as they progress through the system. Gamification can be beneficial when onboarding new employees or training existing employees on products and processes. Game mechanics, such as earning points and badges, make the process more interesting and enjoyable. For digital incentives, companies can even offer real-world rewards.
Incorporate work-life balance.
Research has shown that more than 58% of employees are more engaged with the company when they have a work-life balance. Determining when and how much you work without sacrificing your well-being will increase and maintain your team's engagement. Flexibility is key here. Only with the right balance can employees be motivated to work hard for the company while on the road.
As a team manager, you need to work harder to manage and lead remote teams. Engaging remote employees requires the same effort from both sides. It's much easier to get to know someone who sits next to you all day. You spend hours working together and get to know people inside and out, their strengths and weaknesses, and their personalities. However, when you work remotely, you have to put in a little more effort to get to know your colleagues.